Some history of ‘White Supremacy’ in New Zealand

‘White Supremacist’ is being used to describe a radical fringe in new Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque massacres.

Last week Christ Trotter () tweeted:

He was referring to a post at Bowalley Road: What Is A White Supremacist? (edited)

THE TERM “WHITE SUPREMACIST” is rapidly replacing the more straightforward “racist” in mainstream journalism.

On social media, especially Twitter, the term is being used, anachronistically, to characterise the ideas of explorers and colonialists living in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While it is not unusual to encounter such terminological misuse in the writings of radical post-modernists, it is worrying to see the mainstream media subsume so many different historical and ideological phenomena into this single, catch-all, expression.

The current misuse of the term “white supremacy” is also highly dangerous politically. By singling out this particular form of racism and misapplying it to famous figures from the past, as well as to people living in the present, the users of the term risk not only its rapid devaluation, but also the angry retaliation of those who feel both themselves and their beliefs to have been wrongly and unfairly condemned.

It refers, primarily, to the political regimes which arose in the southern states of the USA in the years following the American Civil War – most particularly in the decades immediately following the withdrawal of federal troops from the states of the defeated Confederacy in 1877.

These regimes were built on the bedrock requirement that whites must in all conceivable circumstances: economic, social, cultural, legal and political; be placed ahead of and above blacks. The poorest and most ill-educated white farmer had to be able to count himself better off, both subjectively and objectively, than his black neighbours. White supremacy wasn’t just a matter of personal racial animus, it described a comprehensive and internally coherent system of race-based rule.

A “white supremacist”, accordingly, is a person who not only subscribes to the principles underpinning the infamous “Jim Crow” system, but also – like the contemporary Ku Klux Klan – strives for its return. Obviously, the term may also be legitimately applied to the very similar systems of race-based rule erected in South Africa and Rhodesia between 1948 and 1992.

Simple racial chauvinism is very different from the conscious creation of a race-based economic and political system. If, however, the media persists in lumping together every Pakeha who takes pride in the achievements of western civilisation with avowed Nazis, like Philip Arps, or genocidal eco-fascists, like the Christchurch shooter, then not only will the charge lose all its definitional and moral force, but, sooner or later, those so lumped will come to the conclusion that they might as well be hung for sheep as lambs.

Those on the Left who are promoting the use of this term, presumably as a way of shaming Pakeha New Zealanders into acknowledging and renouncing their “white privilege”, may soon come to regret driving their boots so forcefully into such a large pack of sleeping dogs

Scott Hamilton ( responded on Twitter): “Just like South Africa & Australia, NZ deployed a mixture of segregationist & assimilationist policies towards non-white peoples in the 19th & 20th centuries. ”


In his new column my friend Chris Trotter argues NZ was never a white supremacist society, like South Africa or America. I think Chris’ case rests on a false dichotomy & on a denial of the historical record. I want to argue against him & post a few old documents.

Chris argues that NZ doesn’t have a white supremacist history, because white settlers sought to assimilate Maori, rather than segregate the races. But settler societies have commonly deployed both assimilationist & segregationist policies. The two can complement each other.

Let’s consider the case of South Africa, which Chris cites as the sort of white supremacist society NZ was not. Apartheid-era SA was notorious for isolating its non-white peoples. It had laws against miscegenation, & segregated toilets. But SA also practiced assimilationism.

The Soweto uprising of 1976 began as a protest against the attempts of South Africa’s rulers to assimilate blacks linguistically. Black schoolkids rejected the demand that they use Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors, in the classroom.

Australia offers another example of a settler society combining segregation with assimilationism. Before 1968 Aboriginals were isolated from other ethnic groups in Australia. Their movements were restricted; they could not participate in electoral politics.

But Aboriginal Australians also suffered from assimilationist policies. White administrators created a ‘stolen generation’, by removing half-caste children from Aboriginal mothers, & making sure they were raised in a white world. This policy was s’posed to ‘whiten’ Aboriginals.

Just like South Africa & Australia, NZ deployed a mixture of segregationist & assimilationist policies towards non-white peoples in the 19th & 20th centuries.

The attempts at assimilation, like the demand Maori kids use English at school, are infamous; the segregationism is not.

Although settler governmentsts allowed Pakeha to serve on juries considering cases involving Maori, the ban on Maori serving on general juries lasted until 1962. Maori were not considered fit to judge whites, just as SA blacks were kept off juries in that country.

Chris contrasts NZ with America in its ‘Jim Crow’ era, when both public facilities & private businesses often segregated white & non-white patrons. The segregated rest rooms of mid-century America are notorious. But few Pakeha know that NZ had the same facilities.

It is not possible yet for me to give an exhaustive account of the segregation of rest rooms in NZ, but my research suggests that the practice was widespread. I want to offer a few examples, with the help of old newspapers.

In 1936 Maori inhabitants of Tauranga protested against their exclusion from the town’s rest rooms, & from some rest rooms that were being planned. In response, Tauranga’s mayor said that Maori wld have to donate some land, if they wanted to get their own, segregated, toilets

Hamilton was another town with whites-only rest rooms. In 1945 the Waikato Times reported the standoff between the city’s mayor & the Maori community. The mayor wanted Maori to pay for a segregated toilet; Maori rejected his request.

Maori had always resented the segregation of rest rooms, but by the late ’40s they were being joined by Pakeha. When Gisborne councillors announced plans for whites-only women’s rest rooms in 1949, locals of both ethnicities wrote angry letters to their local paper.

Kaitaia was another town that saw protests over segregated rest rooms in the ’40s. When the rest rooms were being planned, local politicians had happily broadcast their plans for segregation. Their insouciance tells us something about the prevalence of segregation at the time.

Rest rooms were not the only public facilities that local politicians tried to bar Maori from in early 20th C NZ. In 1921 the Waipa District Council closed Te Awamutu’s fledgling library, because it was being visited by too many ‘undesirable’ elements, like ‘Maoris’ & ‘dogs’.

Private businesses as well as public amenities often practiced segregation in NZ. A 1938 survey found that 26 of Hamilton’s 27 hotels & hostels refused to host Maori. Local politicians suggested building a Maori-only hostel.

It was not only Maori who suffered from segregation in 20th C New Zealand. Indian & Chinese migrants often found themselves barred from taverns, barbers, and swimming pools. In 1918 Hamilton’s Indians protested their inability to get a haircut.

Jelal Natali was a campaigner for the civil rights of Indian Kiwis for decades. In the ’20s Natali protested against the segregation of Auckland’s tepid baths, pointing that all but one of the facility’s pools were reserved for whites.

Sometimes segregation led to violence. On February 25, 1920, at a time when NZ troops were fighting Indian sugar workers in a turbulent Fiji, a group of Indians were ejected from a tavern in Te Awamutu. White patrons followed them onto the footpath, and a riot began.

Chris contrasts the US, with its Ku Klux Klan, with NZ. He appears not to know that the KKK was violently active here in the 1920s, when it formed in opposition to Asian migration. In 1923 the KKK took responsibility for attacks on businesses in Auckland & in Christchurch.

Chris might argue that the KKK was, in NZ, a short-lived & uninfluential organisation. He’d be right, but other, much larger & more powerful groups aligned themselves with the KKK. One was the Protestant Political Association, whose leader Howard Elliott praised the Klan.

The White NZ League was another influential organisation that shared the goals of the Klan. The League formed in 1926, & called for the deportation of all non-white migrants from NZ. It was endorsed by the RSA & by Auckland’s Trade Union Council.

The White NZ League was based in Pukekohe, & helped to enforce the segregation of South Auckland’s pubs, barber shops, & cinemas. In 1959 a major civil rights battle began when Dr Rongomanu Bennett tried to get a drink at Papakura Hotel, and was turned away.

Dr Bennett had many contacts in politics & the media, & he made sure Papakura’s refusal to serve him a drink was reported widely. The suburb was dubbed ‘the Little Rock of NZ’ by some journalists. PM Walter Nash eventually intervened, & the colour bar at Papakura ended.

How widespread, in the postwar era, was the sort of colour bar Rongomau Bennett encountered in Papakura? While researching my book Ghost South Road, I focused on the Waikato & South Auckland. But Noel Hilliard’s 1960 novel Maori Girl suggests it extended beyond the north.

Hilliard’s autobiographical account of a cross-racial marriage caused a sensation when it was published. Hilliard described the open prejudice of Wellingtonian business owners – hoteliers, for example – who refused Maori clients.

Of course, NZ was never a mirror image of the Jim Crow US, or South Africa. Maori like Carroll & Ngata rose to positions of power. Interracial marriages were never banned. But segregation as well as assimilationism is part of our history, contra what claims.

 

Can you separate Muslims from ISIS?

ChristiansKKK

Are all Muslims complicit with wars in the Middle East?

Are all Christians complicit with the KKK?

Are all Christians responsible for the terrible act done by James Alex Fields Jr. in Charlottesville?

Are all Christians Nazi sympathisers like Fields?

Are all white male Americans white supremacists? All white Americans?

Are all white males Nazi sympathisers?

Some people blame everyone who they think aren’t like them, or all of a group they don’t like.

Are all Muslims responsible for ISIS terrorist acts?

All 1.6 billion Muslims? Why not all 3.75 billion males? Or all 7.5 billion humans?

Trump’s ugliness – Charlottesville and after

What happened in Charlottesville last weekend looked ugly. Protesters congregated from around the country, many of them representing ugly and extreme views. Ugliness and extremes were on display. Counter protesters stood up against this, and there was no doubt some ugliness from some of them too, but the focus was rightly on the ugly right.

Many looked to President Trump for some appropriate condemnation. He disappointed for two days. This may have been in part because the ugly right have championed Trump, and in Charlottesville they cheered Trump.

Eventually Trump read a statement condemning the ugly right. It sounded like a carefully constructed statement, delivered without conviction.

The next day Trump reverted to type in an impromptu media conference. He swung back to defending his adoring ugly supporters and spreading the blame. He disappointed many people across the political spectrum. He was cheered by David Duke, ex leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

One disturbing aspect was Trump’s use of terminology repeated often online by those promoting white ‘supremacy’ and trashing anyone deemed different in race or religion.

Trump stirred up an ugliness that has long been in America. This ugliness has voted for him and applauded him, and he has effectively applauded this ugliness back.

RCP: A Defiant Trump’s Combative Homecoming

Donald Trump returned to his famed Fifth Avenue home this week, outwardly unchanged by the past seven months at the White House or the weight of the presidency.

Appearing at Trump Tower for the first time since taking the oath of office, the president rejected calls from within his own party and administration to reset his tone in the wake of a violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., and instead dug in his heels in vintage fashion.

During an impromptu press conference in the marbled lobby of his Manhattan property, flanked by members of his Cabinet, Trump defended his original statement on the protests—re-reading it from a paper he pulled from his blazer pocket–and criticized the “alt-left” and “very, very violent” groups that ran counter-demonstrations in Virginia. The president condemned neo-Nazis who organized the weekend protest, but argued there were some “very fine people” who came to the rally simply to protest the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The president’s frustration with the bipartisan political pressure he faced on his response to Charlottesville was palpable. Earlier in the day, Trump lambasted chief executives who resigned from his manufacturing council in protest of the president’s handling of the weekend’s events. The previous evening, he blamed the media for the way in which his more pointed Monday comments were received. And so, the president dismissed the advice and counsel of his staff who aimed to refocus the nation’s attention on the agenda, and instead embraced his comfort with combat and impulse. New chief of staff John Kelly stood nearby, arms folded and head down.

Trump blasted the press for not covering the counter-protesters, a minority of whom represented the anti-fascist “Antifa” group that has engaged in violence and vandalism, in the same way as the white nationalist organizers. “I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story,” Trump told reporters. “I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides.”

And with that, the president erased any goodwill he established with both liberal and conservative critics with his statement from the White House the previous day, in which he singled out the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists after coming under fire for initially arguing there were “many sides” of violence in Charlottesville.

Concerns about Trump’s pandering to the ugly right have been expressed from elsewhere on the right.

While the president had previously echoed some of the grievances of the GOP base, his unplanned press conference garnered little support. Several Republican lawmakers quickly came out to out to counter Trump’s remarks. “White supremacyis repulsive,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “There can be no moral ambiguity.”

Kansas’ Jerry Moran, a red state senator who once chaired the party committee focused on getting Republicans elected to the Senate, called out the president specifically. “No one — especially POTUS — should ever tolerate” white supremacy, bigotry and racism.

In a series of tweets, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio raised concerns the president’s statements would further fuel hate groups. “Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame,” he wrote. “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win.”

But pointedly…

David Duke, former KKK grand wizard, applauded the president’s remarks.

The ugly right may be all Trump has left to applaud him.

NY Daily News: Both Bush Presidents, McConnell horrified by Trump’s Charlottesville response: ‘There are no good neo-Nazis’ 

The only two living Republican ex-Presidents joined a growing chorus of conservatives criticizing President Trump’s Charlottesville response and denouncing extremism.

“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms,” former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush said in a joint statement Wednesday.

In offering prayers for the Virginia city, the politicians invoked its most “prominent citizen,” Thomas Jefferson, quoting his words in the Declaration of Independence: “We are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — responding to Trump defending Charlottesville white nationalist protesters as “fine people” — emphasized “there are no good neo-Nazis.”

NY Post: Trump’s horrifying ‘take three’ on Charlottesville

On Tuesday afternoon, we learned yet again that the president of the United States is against neo-Nazis, which is nice. They’re “very rough,” he said at an impromptu Trump Tower press conference — by which he likely meant some of the people he saw on TV in Charlottesville this past Saturday had beards and leather jackets and swastika tattoos and were overweight.

The night before, by contrast, Trump said there had been some “very good people” rallying with “a permit” by a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. Maybe he thought so because the photographs we all saw showed clean-cut young men in Polo shirts and Dockers.

The rest of us also saw them engaging in Nazi salutes and carrying torches.

Those images seem to have eluded the president.

Trump did not note that they were not locals with aesthetic concerns but rather had been summoned from all over the country under the slogan “Unite the Right.”

The ad promoting the “Unite the Right” rally, which ran on far-right websites all week, did not even mention the statue. It was designed to evoke a fascist poster with birds similar to the Nazi eagle in the sky over the marchers and Confederate flags taking the place of swastikas.

It invited people to join speakers like Mike Enoch, who hosts a podcast called “The Daily Shoah.” And Augustus Invictus, an alt-right figure who once said, “I have prophesied for years that I was born for a Great War; that if I did not witness the coming of the Second American Civil War I would begin it myself.” And Christopher Cantwell, who calls himself a “fascist,” along with Johnny Monoxide, who just labels himself “fashy.” And Michael Hill, an ex-professor who said, in 2015, “Never underestimate the perfidy of the organized Jew.” And Matt Heimbach, who says only 27,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

The march’s own organizer, Jason Kessler, described the view of those who wanted to move the statue thus: “You don’t give a damn about white people. You people are implementing policies which are displacing us in our home countries, and we will not be allowed to survive.”

As David French writes, “When Trump carves [the alt-right] away from the Nazis and distinguishes them from the neo-Confederates, he’s doing exactly what they want. He’s making them respectable. He’s making them different.”

This has been ugly from America’s right, and it has been ugly from Trump.

Even Fox sees this.

WSJ:  Trump Loses Corporate America

There is no point in taking brickbats for a president who does not deliver.

Mr. Trump’s administration is turning out not to be the administration they were hoping for, though probably the one they realistically expected.

Especially he has not made headway on corporate taxes—the issue that bought him whatever benefit of the doubt America’s CEO class was willing to give him.

Now a handful are fleeing his advisory council because he didn’t say the right words over Charlottesville, or didn’t say them quickly enough. This is big news because the media can’t get enough Trump. He insists on making himself the lightning rod. That’s one problem.

If the president or a scraggly someone close to him in the West Wing is soft on white supremacists because he thinks these groups are a vital bloc, this would be the miscalculation of the century. Their adherents couldn’t swing a race for dogcatcher. It is precisely the left’s fantasy of the right that these people constitute a useful electoral base.

None of the departing CEOs likely believe Mr. Trump is a white supremacist or Nazi sympathizer. They just see no upside to being associated with him.

The Charlottesville protests, which included an attack by vehicle that killed one person and injured many others (similar looking attacks in Europe have been called terrorism), has looked ugly, and Trump’s response has been uneven and increasingly ugly.

It looks like Trump is becoming toxic to Republicans, and toxic to corporate America.

And with Trump remaining defiant it is likely to get uglier.